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Located on the edge of the midwest rustbelt, Cleveland Ohio is a certainly underrated city full of fun and exciting things to do. While the Cleveland Browns tend to be the butt of NFL jokes, Cleveland’s city pride, growing cultural revitalization, food scene, and endless places to explore offers visitors and locals alike plenty of things to do. Cleveland draws visitors for its famous attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, but there are many more things to do in Cleveland!
After our two trips to “The Land,” we found ourselves thinking, “There are so many fun things to do in Cleveland!” One of the aspects we enjoyed was how Cleveland seems to have a bit of everything for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie-beer lover, a sports fanatic, museum crawler, or traveling with your family, Cleveland is a great city to visit! In this guide, we’re sharing what to do in Cleveland, including some free and unique things to do in Cleveland!
15 Fun Things to Do in Cleveland: How to Spend Two Days in Cleveland
Top Things to Do in Cleveland
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
When people think of attractions in Cleveland, the top thing that comes to mind is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So it’s fair to say that the top thing to do in Cleveland is to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Locals might disagree, but tourists love it. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors the legends of music and tells you the story of how this music genre evolved over time. Here, you can see memorabilia of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones, just to name a few. The museum was much larger than we had expected so it was very easy to spend an entire day learning and exploring.
Admission: $16-26 Prices vary by age and special discount available for online purchases and military/students/Ohio residents
Great Lakes Science Center
If you’re looking for things to do in Cleveland for families and adults alike, consider visiting the Great Lakes Science Center and the NASA Glenn Visitors Center. This interactive museum is entertaining for the whole family. The museum includes topics in health sciences, materials science, physics, math, and outer space.
The upper floor has very nice interactive activities that show different scientific principles in action. It’s no wonder it’s the museum’s mission “to make science, technology, engineering, and math come alive.”
Your admission also includes the NASA Glenn Visitors Center. The museum also has an IMAX theater that has daily showings.
Hours: Daily 10-5 Sundays 12-5
Admission: Adult $16.95 Youth (2-12)* $13.95
Sporting Events: Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, and Cleveland Indians
Cleveland is home to the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, and MLB’s Cleveland Indians. So if you’re looking for a sporting event during your weekend in Cleveland, you’ll have options for every season! All three sports teams have their areas and stadiums right in downtown Cleveland which is perfect if you’re looking for convenience!
Tour The Christmas Story House
Not far from downtown Cleveland is the iconic house from the cult classic Christmas Movie, A Christmas Story. Interestingly, a Christmas Story was a low budget film that had a very specific request, a giant department store Christmas display with a slide. Higby’s Department Store agreed, thus filming in Cleveland commenced. Most of the sites in the movie were filmed in the Cleveland area including local supermarkets and neighborhoods in the Cleveland suburbs.
For a visit to the Christmas Story House, be aware that your ticket is good for any day; however. tours are first come first serve and on the 15 after the hour. So if you’re trying to visit the Christmas Story house during high tourist seasons, arrive early and plan ahead!
During a visit to the Christmas Story House, you’ll get to interact with the house, making in a fun interactive experience instead of your typical guided tour. This means you can crawl under the sink where Randy hid or you can caress the leg lamp yourself. After touring the house, you’ll have a chance to look around the small museum.
Jack Casino located in the heart of downtown Cleveland is the place to go if you’re planning on making some bets before the game, or if you want to try your luck at the slots or table games.
Museum of Divine Statues
If you’re looking for something unique to do in Cleveland, consider visiting the Museum of Divine Statues.
The Museum of Divine Statues was a really unexpected find for us in Cleveland! The Museum of Divine Statues is located inside a former church and features statues and artwork from churches that have been shut down in the Cleveland area. The museum is dedicated to preserving and restoring statues that were saved from demolition. Inside this museum, it was very interesting to see the different styles of sculptures that are used in religious art. You can also see some relics of saints and of the Holy Cross.
Hours: 12 to 4 Saturdays and Sundays
See a Show at Playhouse Square
Playhouse Square, or the theater district in Cleveland is the place to be when Broadway shows come into town. Playhouse Square is actually the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York! Here you can see Broadway shows, ballet, symphonies, and plays. Playhouse Square is made possible by a local non-profit organization and is protected on the National Register of Historic Places.
Explore the Museums of University Circle: Cleveland History Center
If you’re looking for all of the museums in Cleveland all you have to do is go visit University Circle. At University Circle you can visit the Cleveland Museum of art, the Cleveland history center, and the Cleveland museum of natural history. During our visit to Cleveland, we stopped at the Cleveland History Center and it was awesome!
In this museum, you’ll get a brief history of Cleveland, a tour of a mansion, a free carousel ride, and exhibits featuring automobiles and art. Riding the carousel it was probably the most unique experience at the Cleveland History Center. This carousel was once located at the Euclid Beach Park, and once the park was no more it was preserved and restored by the museum. The way the Carousel runs today was the way it operated decades ago, with the bell and all!
We were really impressed with the automobile exhibit because it featured vehicles they were only “one-of-one”, including concept cars or cars are only produced in small quantities. It also really put into perspective how our energy choices for automobiles have transformed over the past century including how at one point we had electric vehicles and then moved to gas up and now we’re going back two electric vehicles.
Things to Discover at the Cleveland History Center
- Ride the carousel
- Crawl into a life-sized model of the small sailboat that trekked across the Atlantic
- The Portal- Chryslers hybrid van concept car
Free and Unique Things to Do in Cleveland Ohio
Of the many fun things to do in Cleveland, many of them are completely free!! Cleveland is full of interesting sightseeing and attractions from the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp to the World’s Largest Outdoor Chandelier. Keep reading to see fun, free things to do in Cleveland!
See World’s Largest Rubber Stamp
The Free Stamp is a large sculpture located in Willard Park in downtown Cleveland. This work is known as the world’s largest rubber stamp!
Cleveland Museum of Art
One of the best free things to do in Cleveland is the Cleveland Museum of Art. This massive art museum features three levels of art from around the globe and from ancient to modern art. The inside of the art museum was an artwork if it’s on the older side of the building with its Greco Roman architecture is perfectly married with the modern side of the building with an enclosed courtyard and glass ceilings allowing you to feel like you’re outside even when it’s winter.
Visit The Arcade
One really interesting thing about Cleveland that struck us when we visited with how they call shopping malls or indoor shopping plazas arcadesOne really. When we first saw the sign for the arcade we thought we were going to be walking into a place with pinball machines, but instead, we walked into this beautiful grand hall with glass ceilings in striking Victorian architecture. The Arcade right in downtown Cleveland was beautiful and made for some awesome photos. Throughout the year the arcade is the stage for many public events and is home to a Hyatt Regency Hotel, dining, and shopping.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a monument museum dedicated to Civil War soldiers and sailors. It is located in the Public Square in downtown Cleveland and features a small exhibit inside free of charge.
Wendy Park and Whisky Island
If you’re looking to get out on the water or at least by the water in Cleveland consider stopping by Whiskey Island. Whiskey Island offers plenty of green space so that you can view Lake Erie and get outside. Wendy Park, located on the east edge of the island really shows how Cleveland is an industrial port city. Here, you see beautiful views of the lake balanced with the canal systems, port areas, with the Cleveland Skyline in the background.
Visit the Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Playhouse Square
The world’s largest outdoor chandelier is located above the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 14th Street in Playhouse Square! Even if you aren’t looking to see a show, don’t miss out on stopping by the chandelier! The 20 ft. tall chandelier composed of with 4,200 crystals, hangs 44 ft. above the street.
Explore the West Side Market
The West Side Market is the oldest indoor/outdoor market in Cleveland, Ohio. This landmark market features over 100 vendors and
Practical Information for Visiting Cleveland Ohio
Getting to Cleveland
Thanks to Cleveland’s international airport, getting to Cleveland isn’t super difficult. If you’re from Ohio or surrounding states, Cleveland is accessible via the Ohio turnpike and other highway systems. Driving from Pittsburgh, Cleveland is only about 2 hours away.
Getting Around Cleveland
Getting around Cleveland is quite easy if most of the things you want to visit are in downtown Cleveland. Downtown Cleveland is very walkable and parking garages and lots are readily available and accessible. Compared to Pittsburgh and some other older cities, Cleveland has very logical city planning.
Driving around Cleveland is also quite easy since many of the streets are laid out in grid formation, so a missed exit or turn doesn’t affect your drive very much.
Cleveland also has Uber and Lyft as well as a bus and subway system, so public transit it available if you aren’t traveling to Cleveland by car.
Where to Eat in Cleveland:
4th Street Pedestrian Mall
If you’re looking for good food in Cleveland, visit the 4th Street Pedestrian Mall for world-class cuisine.
- Saigon: Vietnamese restaurant Saigon. Our food was delicious and the service was delightful! Located on 4th Street
- Harry Buffalo: a local favorite located a block away from the Rocket Morgage Center, perfect for pregaming or postgaming a basketball or baseball game!
- The Winking Lizard: another local chain favorite, awesome wing sauces and great drink specials!
- Flat Iron: Cleveland’s oldest Irish pub
- Colossal Cupcakes: Craft cupcake shop in downtown Cleveland
- Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches: BYO ice cream sandwiches, located in the Arcade
Where to Stay in Cleveland
Drury Plaza Hotel
The Drury Plaza Hotel is located in a historic, Board of Education building, in downtown Cleveland. The lobby features two restored murals painted by Cora Holden in 1931. The rooms were beautiful and fully renovated. The hotel was quiet and retained the historic charm of the building.
The included breakfast had a great spread and was delicious. The Drury Plaza Hotel in Cleveland was centrally located near the Great Lakes Science Center and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which was great so we could park the car and walk everywhere for the weekend.
During our second weekend getaway to Cleveland, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown. Since tourism has grown in Cleveland, hotel chains are abundant in downtown. As we mentioned, the city is very walkable so downtown hotels are close to all the top things to do in Cleveland! The Hampton Inn was perfect for our second trip to Cleveland. The rooms were comfortable and very clean and breakfast was filling!